[Marxism] Off the Rails

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Apr 3 06:28:24 MDT 2018

But the government’s chief target is the railroad worker “statut,” the 
special employment status that applies to 140,000 employees of the SNCF. 
Under this system, employees cannot be laid off for economic reasons and 
they have the ability to retire earlier than most of the French 
workforce. While the general retirement age is 62, SNCF conductors can 
retire at age 52, and other railroad personnel at 57.

As most trade unionists and left-wingers readily acknowledge, the 
special employment status by itself is a tricky thing to defend. By 
definition, it applies only to railroad workers, just as journalists, 
doctors, and civil servants have statuts of their own. At a time when 
many young and working-class people are mired in precariousness and 
unemployment, sympathy for rail workers and their employment advantages 
isn’t exactly widespread. In fact, a recent poll showed nearly 7 in 10 
favor eliminating the statut. The president and the cabinet understand 
what this means. Successful passage of the reforms depends on isolating 
rail workers from the general public — on painting them as privileged 
vestiges of a bygone era who need to wake up to the realities of the 
modern, globalized economy.


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